Jill Savage compares the empty nest years to the encore of a musical. You get to pick your favorite parts to play again, she says. You can enjoy being a grandparent without having to stay up all night with a fussy kid. It should work this way in theory, but I have a friend who is single-parenting the son of her 30-something-year-old mentally challenged son. She loves her grandson dearly, but raising him was not what my friend had envisioned for her retirement. Life isn’t so cookie-cutter neat as to reward every parent with an encore season, especially for the economically depressed or those who deal with chronic illnesses.
Even so, Empty Nest explores many relevant concepts from a Biblical viewpoint. Savage writes candidly about her Christian family grappling with the news that one of their sons called to tell them he is gay, and another son who called to say his girlfriend was pregnant. When you reach the empty nest stage of life, it is time to let some things go and grab hold of other things. One of the things you may need to let go is the idol of what other people think of you. When your adult children call with news that is upsetting, is what others will think of you one of the first things you consider?
Savage suggests holding onto relationships. She says your kids probably already know where you stand on moral issues, and the color of their hair isn’t important, even in family photos. Give them words of affirmation. Don’t enable, but love.
The most encouraging part of Empty Nest for me is seeing that although Jill Savage has spent years in ministry, she admits to the same types of struggles and disappointments I might have in my own family. Yet, she is not defeated by it. She isn’t bogged down with self-blame, but she is carrying on with what God has called her to do.